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Ficus Tree Diseases

Identifying Ficus Tree Diseases and Their Precautionary Measures

Figs are popular decorative houseplants, especially for their rich foliage and modifiable canopy. Nevertheless, one should be very attentive regarding the diseases that can afflict these trees, such as crown gall, leaf infection, and leaf and stem spots.
Ningthoujam Sandhyarani
Last Updated: Mar 5, 2018
Ficus trees are decorative indoor plants, and every gardening enthusiast prefers to have at least one at their home. Despite their lustrous foliage, drooping branches, and attractive canopy, they require minimal maintenance as compared to other houseplants. So, people who have a hectic schedule can even grow and maintain wonderful figs. Among the several species of the genus ficus, Ficus benjamina (weeping fig), Ficus elastica (rubber tree), and Ficus lyrata (fiddle-leaf fig) are the ones most popular.
Similar to any other plant, figs are also susceptible to various problems. The most common complaints regarding these plants are leaves turning yellow, leaf drop, and root rot. These problems develop basically due to over watering and exposure to cold temperatures for a prolonged period of time. Since these evergreen trees are native to tropical and subtropical climates, they require optimum light, high temperatures, and humidity for a healthy growth.
Diseases of Ficus Trees
Ficus tree diseases usually develop due to unfavorable growing conditions. Low temperature (below 60°F) and excess watering are the major causes for this. Effective tips for maintaining healthy figs are using a pathogen-free planting soil and container, and a disease-free plantlet. Whether you have a regular sized fig or a bonsai, you can refer to the following information for identification and timely control of the diseases:
  • Crown Gall:
    Crown gall, as the name signifies, causes swollen areas on the leaves (in the major veins), stems, and at times, roots. Swollen areas may also form near the stem cuttings. It is caused by a bacterium called Agrobacterium tumefaciens. Over a period of time, the swollen areas turn hard and corky. Destroy the affected plant parts to prevent spreading. Using plant sprays containing copper is an effective method for treating this condition.
  • Leaf Spots:
    Black spots of very small size usually develop on the back of the leaves. This is nothing but fig leaf spots caused by Cercospora fungus. Under very heavy infestation, the leaves turn yellow and eventually fall off. Pluck the diseased foliage and collect fallen leaves (if any) to prevent further spreading of the disease. To kill any existing fungus, spray the trees with the proper fungicide.
  • Leaf and Stem Spot:
    Spotting in the leaves and stems can also be caused due to canker infestation. The spots may appear rusty in color, and at times oozing of sap occurs from the stem spots. Gently remove the affected leaves, making sure that you are not spreading the fungus to other parts of the tree. Then, you can spray the trees with appropriate concentration of fungicide solution.
  • Leaf Infection:
    In ficus trees, leaf infection by the bacterium Xanthomonas campestris is manifested as tiny water-soaked areas. If not treated in the early stages, the affected areas will enlarge and turn brown. In some cases, a yellowish border surrounds the leaf patches. The diseased leaves fall within a few days of infection. Apply bactericides in proper concentration to control this disease.
In addition to the above diseases, check for occurrence of pests like scales, mealy bugs, and centipedes. In case of infestations by mealy bugs and scale, you may notice oozing of the plant sap. Spray the trees with the correct horticultural solutions to kill the pests. If left untreated, these can lead to death of the fig tree. To prevent pests and diseases, regulate the growing factors in such a way that they meet the native environmental condition.